What Works to Increase Charitable Donations? A Meta-Review with Meta-Meta-Analysis

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Many charities rely on donations to support their work addressing some of the world’s most pressing problems. We conducted a meta-review to determine what interventions work to increase charitable donations. We found 21 systematic reviews incorporating 1339 primary studies and over 2,139,938 participants. Our meta-meta-analysis estimated the average effect of an intervention on charitable donation size and incidence: r = 0.08 (95% CI [0.03, 0.12]). Due to limitations in the included systematic reviews, we are not certain this estimate reflects the true overall effect size. The most robust evidence found suggests charities could increase donations by (1) emphasising individual beneficiaries, (2) increasing the visibility of donations, (3) describing the impact of the donation, and (4) enacting or promoting tax-deductibility of the charity. We make recommendations for improving primary research and reviews about charitable donations, and how to apply the meta-review findings to increase charitable donations.

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